I awoke today to a thick, soupy morning fog. We don’t often get fog here in Calgary and there is something wonderfully mysterious and beautiful about it. I happily finished my morning ablutions and comfortably settled into my home office with a mug of hot tea to begin my day. Deeply engrossed in my work, it took a while for my brain to register that there was a knock at the door.
One beautiful Valentine’s Day a few years back, I was out and about in our neighbourhood walking to a wonderful nearby neighbourhood pâtisserie. I was on my way to pick up a few heart-shaped cookies for my sweet man. It felt like spring—the sky was a clear azure blue, the sun gently warmed my face, birds chirped away in the trees and my heart sang right along with them, overflowing with affection for my sweetie. I felt expansive, head-over-heels in love with my man; indeed, in love with all of life itself.
“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”
~ Winnie the Pooh
This may sound strange to some, but I love winter. I love the cold; I love the dark evenings; I love snow and winter storms. I love the feeling of cocooning inside while the wind whistles and snow curls and swirls around our home, and we’re inside, warm and snug as bugs. And I especially love that it’s the time of year for one of our favorite traditions: every winter, my partner and I pick out a book or two to read aloud together. On deliciously cold, dark, winter evenings, we snuggle up together with a soft blankie and a mug of steaming hot tea and my sweetheart reads to me. We never set out to make it a tradition—it all started one winter when my sweetie suggested that I pick out a book for him to read to me. The first book I picked was A.A. Milne’s “The House at Pooh Corner”, which I’d never read as a child. We both loved the experience so much that we went on to read the rest of the Pooh books and vowed to make it a yearly winter tradition to read at least one book together.
This delicious dessert is the perfect finish to a long, refreshing winter weekend walk in the snow. What better way to top off an invigorating winter walk than to come back to your cozy abode knowing you will enjoy a cup of hot tea and a comforting warm dessert? Redolent of all the freshness of summer, yet belly-warming, this yummy steamed pudding floats in a pool of creamy orange buttermilk sauce. This dessert is tasty any time of year, but we especially enjoy having it in the fall or winter. Continue reading →
“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”
~ Gary Zukav
A Winter Wonderland
As if on cue, the snow gently floated down in soft feathery flakes on Christmas Eve and I fell asleep, all warm and cozy in my bed, hoping that the snow would keep falling all night long. I knew that a fresh snowfall would bode well for the Christmas Day nature walk we planned on taking and I was not disappointed. The next morning could not have dawned more beautifully—the world was covered in a soft, thick, blanket of pristine white snow, there wasn’t a hint of wind, the sky had completely cleared and was bluer than ever and, in spite of the cold temperatures, a golden butterscotchy light gave the whole world a warm, inviting glow. Not a single wisp of cloud dared to show its face in the brilliance of that blue sky. My partner and I knew we were in for an incredibly beautiful walk.
The snow is gently falling here and I’m getting my wish for a pristine White Christmas. Life is good and I feel utterly blessed to be living on this beautiful planet. I’m sending out a beam of love—may it find its way to each of you.
Wishing all of my dear friends around the globe, far and near, much laughter, peace and happiness. May joy fill each of your hearts.
Every summer I enjoy keeping a container garden on our high-rise balcony and I love it all summer long, but I find beauty in my little balcony garden in every season, including winter.
Rather than clearing out all my potted plants in late autumn, I purposely leave all of my plants to naturally dry and I allow winter to engulf them. Winters are cold here in Calgary, so nothing potted survives it except my two potted trees. I love the way the dried grasses and flowers frost up and the way they create beautiful shapes and organic sculptures as piles of snow cap the leaves and branches. I think the bare bones of my little trees look so beautiful too.
Smell is a potent wizard that transports you across thousands of miles
and all the years you have lived.”
A Holiday Decoration to Delight the Senses
The first pomanders (from the French pomme d’ambre, “apple of amber”) were balls made of perfumes and they were one of the earliest forms of aromatherapy. Modern day pomanders are often made during the holiday season by studding oranges or other citrus fruits with whole dried cloves and curing them in fragrant spices. They can be left out to scent and freshen the air, used as beautiful tabletop decorations or tree ornaments, or placed in drawers to keep linens and clothing fresh and pleasant-smelling.
Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking
if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.
‘Tis the Season to Enjoy Exotic Fruit
Here in Canada, where winters are cold and “all green things cease to grow”, the holiday season has always been a time to enjoy imported exotic fruits. When I was a child, the big treat in December was mandarin oranges from Japan. While I still look forward to having a fresh mandarin (or my new favourite, the satsuma orange), I also look forward to a new exotic fruit which has become readily available over the last ten years: fresh pomegranates.
The Danbo Brothers lead a busy and adventurous life and it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen them. I know they love the woods in fall and, as we’ve had an unusually long, warm autumn here, I believe their prolonged absence probably had to do with them taking many a long stroll in the woods to enjoy the splendour of the autumn foliage.
More often than not, if I run into them at all, it seems we most often rendezvous in the kitchen first thing in the morning—so I’m never quite sure what might await me there (which is always rather fun). And no matter how early in the morning it is, I can always count on these guys to be in a happy mood.
“Autumn carries more gold in its pocket than all the other seasons.”
~ Jim Bishop
The Autumn Colour Palette
Autumns are short here in Calgary and in the nearby Rocky Mountains. If you want to enjoy it, you have to get out there and savour every day you can—lest a particularly hard frost, unexpected snow dump or a big wind takes it all away overnight. It’s happened before: autumn can quickly disappear here by mid-September. But this year, we’ve been extra fortunate. We’ve had a bonus month of autumn—October has been a gloriously beautiful month, with most days being warm and sunny, and graced with incredible azure blue skies. The weather has been so lovely that my potted geraniums are still blooming! It’s highly unusual to have them last this late into the season. We took full advantage of the spectacular weather this whole season and got out for long walks with our cameras in the mountains and in our city parks as often as we could. Here are some of the sights we enjoyed on our autumn walks this year.